Re: NANO: Goo color

Anders Sandberg (
31 Aug 1997 13:01:36 +0200

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> writes:

> "Red goo" is not an acceptable alternate to "black goo" because nobody can
> translate it mentally.

Huh? I see no problems at all with this term. In our culture red is often
associated with aggression and danger, and red goo makes sense.

> "Khaki goo" is just plain silly.

Why? It might not be a deadly serious term, but it suggests something that
has come out of a military lab and used by the traditional (IMHO soon to
be very outdated) armies.

> "War goo", abandoning the spectrum, is acceptable; as is "death goo".

War goo is an useful term, since it tells what is intended, but death goo
is a bit too diffuse: does it mean death to a certain person (like the
"quicksilver" I wrote a short story about), all people who are in contact
with it or all ordered systems?

> "Mataglap" would
> be fine, since it's easy to translate into Something Evil. Except that in
> "Aristoi", the term was synonymous with any destructive goo, so we'd be
> changing the terminology.

I have added Mataglap to my terminology pages since it is an interesting
term, but it is too vague to be very useful. It has the connotations of Evil,
which is impractical in serious discussions about goo capabilities since
we are more interested in the tactical or long-term aspects, not whether
the nanites themselves have some metaphysical evil (one could argue that
gray, red, khaki and green goo are all evils, but the nanites themselves
are just tools for somebody to comitt evil).

> "Black goo" is instantly recognizable as Malevolent Goo.

Yes. I don't think it is specific enough to be useful, but it is recognizble.
The problem is that it encompasses accidental goo, deliberately designed
malevolent goo and Ubergoo built by Powers that look malevolent but really
isn't (see the story _Kadath in the Cold Waste_ for a fine take on it
(forgot the author, but make a web search for Kadath and Mars, and you
will likely find it)).

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!    
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y